I'm a young adult and officially left the church in February of this year as I felt so fraudulent leading youth groups and being involved in student evangelism whilst no longer believing any of it. Its been a messy time emotionally and I think I've just needed to let my hair down a bit. I'm slowly figuring out who my identity is without Christ and am getting to a place where most of the time I am in a good head space. However, one of the hardest things I'm struggling with is the idea of sex and relationships.
All through youth groups we were taught about abstinence and how sex is special but only for marriage. I never considered dating anyone who wasn't christian so am great at making guy friends as I would instantly dismiss any possible attraction (therefore have great lad banter, but when I flirt its more Michael Scott). Relationships were idolised: you had to be really sure, if not already in love with a person to ask them out as anything other than "dating for marriage" was frowned upon. I had no experience of dating as a teenager but at the time it didn't bother me as the plan was to meet someone at uni- by that time all the lovely guys are in long term relationships and the rest seem to be sexist / smarmy/ strange. I now have left the church, have no dating experience and feel super behind all my friends.
To my mates sex is a casual thing, no one really gets the fear and panic I have with it all as it has been completely blown out of proportion in my head. This annoys me as I feel like I have brushed off or rationalised a lot of Christian manipulation but this is the one area where the christian teachings have a really firm grasp. I want to have a fuck it attitude (both literal and metaphorical) but often stop seeing guys after a few dates because I freak out. Covid has not helped with any of this either, as this has been the time where I have properly processed and most hang ups except casual dating (which I think would be good for me to do) is is tricky to do right now. I want to be normal, I want to date around and just have experience of what different relationships are like but it feels terrifying and sinful- that I will be really judged for it.
Am I odd or have people had similar issues? Any advice?